Putting the Colorado Springs Utilities natural-gas price increase into a consumer’s perspective

Our public-owned utility —with approval of our City Council— increased our cost of electricity and natural gas beginning mid-November. Their recent “Electric and gas cost adjustments” paper began with:

 “Natural gas prices continue to rise globally and are almost 100% higher than this time last year because of supply concerns and rising demand.” 

CSU then outlined our November 2021 natural-gas rate increase as being a “26.8 percent increase” for the “sample” residential consumer.  This 26.8-percent increase was widely reported in local news.

I found CSU frustratingly accurate, while failing to inform or serve their citizen-customer.  I believe that many of us put our utilities into same-month budgets, as we plan July’s electrical costs for summer cooling, August water costs for summer irrigation, and January’s natural gas costs for winter heat.

My October bill this year for natural gas was $59.02—quite close to CSU’s sample of $59.41.  My gas bill last January (2021) was $98.43, so shouldn’t I expect next January’s to be 27 percent more—somewhere around $125?  Nope!  The other rate increases since last November (2020) that would bring that same January bill to $198—over DOUBLE last January’s bill (102 percent higher).

Here is why I find CSU’s publicity misleading, and how it breaks down:

There are two parts to our gas bill:

  1. Our daily connection charge of $0.393, or about $11.79 for a 30-day month; this charge did not change.
  2. The charge for the natural gas we consume, made up of three different CSU charges that I will simplify as one total. This charge is per hundred cubic feet, or CCF.  It’s the only cost we consumers can control by lowering our thermostats or finding other ways to save.

CSU’s residential gas consumption charges have risen by 202 percent (tripled) since October of 2020, when natural gas was about 35 cents per CCF.  Gas then rose to 47 cents in November, 49 cents the next month, 79 cents in April, 2021, and our newly-approved rate is $1.06.  CSU was accurate that the November, 2021, “sample-customer” cost was only 27 percent higher, but CSU failed to inform or warn their taxpayer-owner-customer that this new cost is at least double last year’s winter heating cost.

I suggest no deception on the part of CSU’s staff, nor do I believe they have a choice on this rate increase, given the cost of gas from wholesale suppliers.  I suggest only they that they did a disservice by ignoring the true impact of rate increases over the last twelve months, and failed to advertise the doubled costs to our winter heating bills.  The predicted 27 percent is not even close to the actual 100+ percent.

In doing this research, I also noticed that CSU changed their residential utility bill to an attractive and colorful format that discourages scrutiny; it removed the rates and left only consumption and total charges.

I won’t complain without suggesting a solution: CSU needs to be more forthcoming and educate its citizen-owner-customers about the true seasonal cost increases.

Perhaps they could say: “While the November increase is 27 percent, when combined with previous increases we anticipate this winter’s heating costs to our customers to be at least double last year’s costs.”  How hard was that?

Rick Lancaster is a retired Electronics Engineer and resident of Colorado Springs since 1994.

3 thoughts on “Putting the Colorado Springs Utilities natural-gas price increase into a consumer’s perspective

  1. And now that the City Council (led by Richard Skorman) retired our clean coal burning plant years before it was scheduled to be retired, we’re just hosed by natural gas price increases. We need a City Council that will help the Springs get lower energy costs again.

  2. When I received my November 2021 bill, I was shocked that gas was up 77% over last November even though my CCF usage was down slightly from last year. I called CSU and inquired about the 27% increase that was touted in multiple communications. I thought there was an error in the calculations. I was told the same thing that Rick details above – there were multiple rate hikes in 2020 and early 2021. I hate to think what December and January bills will look like, as November was a mild month.

  3. We just got our utility bill for Dec 2021 – Jan 22 (33 days) with gas billing for 327 CCF at $359.23.
    Last year, our utility bill for Dec 2020-Jan 2021 (33 days) with gas billing for 328 CCF at $172.44.
    We used 1 CCF LESS this year than last year and our bill was $186.79 MORE, which is MORE THAN DOUBLE, NOT the 26-27% increase we were told to expect by CSU. The arrogance and audacity of CSU and the City Administration has never ceased to astound me in the 40 years I’ve lived in Colorado Springs. Perhaps these two groups need to reduce some of the Cadillac salaries, benefits, and bonuses at the top, offset this outrageous increase with the $71M they overcharged their customers for years and have yet to refund anybody in town for, and to COMPENSATE we taxpayers for irresponsibly and imprudently decommissioning our coal-burning power plant long before its useful life was over. Don’t even get me started on the Southern Delivery Project we voters REJECTED that was carried out anyway or the ILLEGAL Stormwater fee scam that is now called “Wastewater Service Charge” and appears on our utility bill. I don’t want to hear about how CSU is comparatively cheap when it isn’t and I certainly DO NOT want to see billboards and TV commercials about a utility provider that is the ONLY utility provider available to the majority of residents and businesses in Colorado Springs. In my opinion, utility customers of Colorado Springs have been slammed with these exorbitant utility rates in support of the current disastrous economic policies and blatant agenda of the anti-American, incompetent, and completely corrupt Leftist/Socialist regime now in the highest offices in our state and nation. We all know what rolls downhill and we CSU customers are at the very bottom of it.

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